Dick Celeste, Senior Counsel to For Impact and The Suddes Group (and someone I’m honored and humbled to call my friend), has one of the most impressive track records/resumes/bios you’ve ever seen. Rhodes Scholar. Head of the Peace Corps. Governor of Ohio. Ambassador to India. President of Colorado College. (I’m sure I missed some things.)
One of the most fascinating things about being around Dick is he is filled with stories. What is unusual is his stories always involve Presidents or Prime Ministers or Secretaries of States or Kings!
He shared this one with me the last time we were together and it’s pretty powerful.
Dick related that when he worked for Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, General Powell shared these two pithy statements:
1. “Don’t bring me a round stone when a sharp rock will do.”
2. “The field is always right.”
The first one seems to ask not to over think a problem or situation. Just communicate it.
*This seems quite the contrary to Henry Kissinger when he was Secretary of State. He would make his staff re-do their white papers four or five times … always telling them to make it better. Then, after the fourth or fifth time, he would read it!
Powell’s #2 is particularly compelling to me at this moment.
We do a lot of work with large national organizations, large national healthcare systems, and many, many regional organizations with ‘field offices’.
Since we work every day, side by side, with the ‘field’ … we have a deep understanding of the challenges, motivation and morale of the ‘field’ (troops).
Powell’s background in the U.S. Army, and ultimately a 4-Star General, gave him the experience and background to make this statement: “The field is always right.”
So, unless you are actually in the field … stop making decisions from headquarters!
Katniss, our miniature Highland cow, out in "the field".
“We know we need to be doing Major Gifts. We should hire a Major Gift Officer. It’s not in this year’s budget. We’ll do it next year.”
“We love For Impact. We love this training. We know we need more coaching. However, it’s not in this year’s budget/we’ll put it in next year’s budget.”
Seriously? For Impact Leaders and rock star Development/Advancement Officers are not driven by “budgets“! We are letting the ‘bean counters‘ run our business!!!
*Remember John DeLorean’s comment when the bean counters and finance people told General Motors how much money they could save if they closed a plant. “Let’s close all our plants. That will save a lot of money.”
To be a great leader, true professional, a master salesperson … you must THINK LIKE AN ENTREPRENEUR!
I’ve never, ever, ever heard an entrepreneur say “It’s not in the budget”. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a true entrepreneur or someone with entrepreneurial spirit who even has a budget!
They respond to opportunities. They ‘pivot’ when required. They’re driven by the vision and the goals … not the budget!
Three quick tips (before I go all Tom Peters rant on you):
1. REALLOCATE. If you’re forced in a ‘budget’ situation … look at the aggregate! Reallocate resources, people and projects … based on goals and priorities! (E.g., Don’t fill ‘open’ positions. And use the money for other priorities.)
2. FORGIVENESS NOT PERMISSION. Just go over budget! I know. Many of you have just fallen off your chair or dropped your smart phone. However, just think about this situation. You’ve expended your entire Development/Advancement/Fundraising travel budget. You have a $1M Qualified Prospect who is ready to commit. You just need to fly there and close the deal. But wait. You can’t! You don’t have any travel money left. (Again, seriously?)
3. MAKE A BETTER CASE. If you’re in a cut, cut, cut world … with a focus on reducing expenses/the denominator … it’s up to you to make a much stronger case as to why: (a) you should not cut your budget or (b) you should actually spend more money! (Assuming you’ve done #1 REALLOCATE).
Great companies/orgs focus on the revenue/numerator … and Development/Advancement can significantly Impact – Income! (Revenue)
Here’s one of my favorite stories on this subject. Put politics aside. It’s about Mitt Romney taking over the Salt Lake City Olympic games. They were hemorrhaging cash and the ‘old leadership’ had mandated a 30% cut across the board … every line item, every department, every program.
Romney, the entrepreneur/businessman, came in and said, simply, “We’re going to look at every project, every program, every line item … and adjust based on our priorities. Some people will get more money (the sales team/fundraisers!) … and some will get less. And some will be eliminated completely.” Salt Lake City Olympics turned everything around, and (I think) the first Winter Olympics to show a surplus (profit).
Again, (he said gently but confidently) “Great For Impact organizations (and particularly sales teams) are not driven by budgets. They are driven by productivity and results.”
Suddes and ‘Hahvad’ probably should not be in the same sentence. However, I love getting my HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, if for no other reason than to help justify/verify things that we talk about every day at For Impact.
Steve Blank is a consulting associate professor at Stanford, a principal investigator at University of California and Columbia and has participated in 8 high-tech start-ups.
Why you should read this and why it’s important to you:
Principles cited in this article are mandatory in the new world of entrepreneurship/social entrepreneurship. However, they can be utilized within any FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATION!
“The methodology called the ‘Lean Start-Up’ favors experimentation over elaborate planning … customer (read investor/prospect) feedback over intuition … an iterative design over traditional development.” Oh yeah!
Steve Blank reinforces what I have been saying for the last ten years (to anyone who will listen): ‘Business Plans’ are worthless! It’s all about the Business Model!!!
*When I stated this at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Notre Dame and at many of Social Entrepreneurship Programs in which I have been asked to speak … there was unanimous agreement that was craziest thing they had ever heard. “It’s why we call it a ‘Business Plan’ competition.” “Every investor wants a ‘Business Plan’.” “We have to do a five-year forecast for revenue, profits, cash flow or no one will take us seriously.”
*Mr. Blank actually says that Business Plans rarely survive first contact with the customer, and then uses a Mike Tyson quote (that was actually said by Leon Spinks). “Everybody has a plan until they get hit.”
Tomorrow, April 18, 2013, @ 12:30 p.m. EST, Tom will be presenting a webinar on JUST ASK for ASKING MATTERS. Andrea Kihlstedt is the host and will be interviewing Tom as a fundraising master. More info on registration.
Prepping this morning for webinar tomorrow. Wake Forest Advancement Team on Monday. CHI (Catholic Health Initiatives) Training in Colorado on Wednesday. Also getting everything ready for a big week in Ireland.
I know our Point of View is game changing.
I know we’ve got a lot of great Framework and Processes for FI Teams.
I know if you follow the Roadmap, you have a guide for big funding boosts.
I also know that none of that means squat if you don’t JUST ASK!!!
Three PDF’s that you can print and share that might help.
SALES BOOT CAMP. This is our signature experience coming up on June 18-19, 2013. For over ten years, leaders and development officers have been coming from around the world to be with us each summer at Eagle Creek, our Leadership & Challenge Center in Columbus, Ohio.
The Sales Boot Camp takes a deep-dive into the Point of View, the Funding Roadmap, the Funding Model and more. It focuses on giving each attendee the basic skill set to make the one-on-one ASK.
It’s perfect for any sales team or individual looking to build your skills. For Impact alumni organizations often send their new hires to get trained on the For Impact approach and methodology. More info on registration.
“… we discovered something startling: The many and diverse choices that made certain companies great were consistent with just three seemingly elementary rules.”
Better Before Cheaper.
It’s best to compete on differentiators other than price.
Revenue Before Cost.
Prioritize increasing revenue over reducing costs.
There Are No Rules.
Holy Batman, Robin.
I may not be quite as crazy and contrarian as some people think! Here’s my take on these three rules applied to the For Impact world.
Better Before Cheaper. Much more importantly, compete on differentiators other than price. In our world, this is about Unique Selling Points, Dramatic Differences, Distinguishing Characteristics … all the things in our Purpose, Message, Value Proposition and Case for Support that makes us DIFFERENT!
*Jeff Strine, one of our Senior Partners, just met with a HUGE community foundation yesterday who had one simple guideline: They don’t want to fund DUPLICATIVE PROGRAMS!
Revenue Before Cost. Increase revenue vs. reducing costs. This is a big, big, big deal for me and for us. IN essence, it says FOCUS ON THE NUMERATOR … NOT THE DENOMINATOR! Or, as that ‘Maverick’ Mark Cuban says, “Sales covers up everything.” We should be focusing on adding additional REVENUE … which I believe comes from a stronger focus on philanthropy and a change in the model from ‘special events’, etc. to specific engagement with your very best prospects and potential investors!
*CUT, CUT, CUT … does not a truly great organization make. John DeLorean (before he created the car for BACK TO THE FUTURE), once told the bean counters at General Motors when they suggested closing one of their plants, “Why don’t we just close all the plants? That will save a lot of money.”
There Are No Other Rules. This is my favorite. (It also gives me major incentive to finish a For Impact Guidebook called CHANGE (THE) RULES!). Here are three quotes to support this third conclusion from studying 25,453 companies!
“You can’t solve a PROBLEM if you’re playing by the RULES.” — Paul Arden
“We will not survive by just tinkering with the RULES of the ‘OLD GAME’. We need to change the entire GAME.” – Larry Wilson
NCAA Basketball Tournament just concluded; and I happened to catch ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the 1983 National Championship run by Jim Valvano and North Carolina State. (This is an awesome story – and incredibly well told.)
This documentary included Valvano’s famous ESPY Awards speech (from 1993).
He began this incredible 10-minute presentation by stating that he “didn’t know how much time was left…” because he was fighting cancer. He went on to say that he’s a very “passionate and emotional man” and he wanted to share some things…
The ’3 THINGS’ he shared all had ’3 THINGS’!!!
*Just so you know, I love the RULE OF 3. It’s used in media, broadcasting, sales, presentations and so much more. All Jim Valvano did was reinforce this for me… in a very emotional and positive way.
1. The 3 THINGS we should do every day:
BE MOVED TO TEARS
Jimmy V. said “THAT’S A FULL DAY!”
2. (Another) 3 THINGS we should think about every day:
WHERE You Started…
WHERE You Are…
WHERE You’re Going To Be…
3. The Lombardi/Valvano Locker Room Presentation around ‘THESE 3 THINGS’:
He talks about his first pre-game speech as a ‘head’ coach with Rutgers Freshman Team. He ‘practiced’ his talk which he had ‘borrowed’ from Vince Lombardi. It went like this:
“All eyes on me.
We’ll be successful this year if we can focus on These 3 Things:
And the GREEN BAY PACKERS!!!”
*As a speaker/presenter, I cracked up at hearing him say ‘Green Bay Packers’ … instead of Rutgers!
Coach Valvano channeled Winston Churchill with his now famous line:
Ireland, as a country and economy, has been devastated even more than the United States in this latest global ‘recession’. Banks have collapsed. Developers have left multiple ‘ghost towns’ of vacant half-finished housing projects. The Catholic Church has lost a lot of its influence. Government austerity programs are in place.
I’ve been to Ireland five times since 2009, to help FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATIONS change their philanthropic culture (or lack thereof) … and scale and grow their impact.
Every time I visit, I am impressed and amazed at the spirit of the Irish people. They have responded to Michael Collins (Irish Revolutionary Leader) and his 1922 definition of ‘riches’. “The real riches of the Irish nation will be the men and women of the Irish nation, the extent to which they are rich in body and mind and character.”
We have partnered with Business to Arts, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, the One Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Iris O’Brien Foundation and the Arthur Guinness Fund to help change the philanthropic culture from the old ‘story’ (“Government will fund everything. Why should I give?”) to the new ‘story’ (“Philanthropic support is a critical component in Ireland’s future.”)
2013 marks THE GATHERING IRELAND, a year-long celebration of Ireland, its people and all that is great in its connections, both at home and abroad.
The Suddes Group is proud to be hosting our own FOR IMPACT GATHERING IRELAND on May 20, 2013. This Memorable Experience will take place at the iconic Abbey Theatre … and is open to all For Impact (not-for-profit) leaders, staff and boards, social entrepreneurs and anyone else wanting to change the world or change Ireland.
This is Gaelic for IMPACT and INCOME … and it’s working! Results in Ireland have been nothing short of spectacular working within this new philanthropic model. (JUST ASK, however, is still a difficult concept for the Irish. In fact, they don’t even have a word for it! ACH DÍREACH CUIR CEIST is the closest they can come … which is Gaelic for BUT ONLY PUT THE QUESTION!)
For information on the For Impact Gathering in Ireland, click here. Register before April 19, 2013, and save €150 (off the full price of €195 per person) by using the discount code ficommunity.
Special Note: For U.S. members of our ‘Tribe’, this is a great ‘excuse’ to head to Ireland for some Advanced Training … and engagement with the Irish people. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.